Top Ten Tips for Navigating Social Media (when you’re not a millennial!)

The internet and the world have changed so much over the past two decades, making it hard to keep up. Social media can be especially challenging to navigate and it may seem like millennials and Gen Z have a monopoly on this channel, but don’t let generational designations intimidate you! Anyone can create a social media profile that is interesting and worthwhile, which is particularly important for authors wanting to create awareness for their work. As an author on social media, you can network with fellow writers, find new readers, and promote your books and events. Here are ten tips for skillfully navigating social media, even when you’re not a millennial.

  1. Pick the best platform(s) for you: think about the target audience for your book. Which social media platforms are your potential readers on? Be careful not to take on too many platforms to start. Facebook is the most popular social media site, so you’re bound to find readers there. But also consider platforms like Snapchat or Instagram for a younger audience, or Pinterest for a largely female audience. The content on each site will vary, too. Pinterest, Instagram, and Snapchat are highly visual, while Facebook will allow for longer text posts. But always remember …

  2. Don’t write too much: you’re a writer, so of course your words are great! But, more often than not, social media calls for brevity. Remember that many of your followers will view your posts on a small screen, like a tablet or phone. You don’t want to overwhelm with text. Instead …

  3. Include images: photos and images in your social media posts can increase engagement. They are more eye-catching than a block of text. If you’re using a photo, make sure it is clear and well lit. You can create graphics and find high-quality photos, illustrations, and images for free on websites like Canva or Pixabay.
    1. Horizontal photos are usually better than vertical. You can capture more of the scene.
    2. Pictures are worth a thousand words, but be sure to add a few of your own to give context to what you’re posting.

  4. Understand hashtags: social media users can search for content using certain hashtags. For example, if someone wanted to look at pictures of puppies, they could search #puppies, and any public post that includes #puppies will appear. Hashtags help you find relevant content that is interesting to you, and can help other users find you. As an author, you may include hashtags such as #writing, #author, and #writingcommunity, or, genre-specific hashtags that pertain to your book, such as #romance. To include a hashtag in your post, use the pound sign followed by whatever word or term you want to use.
    1. Hashtags do not include spaces or punctuation marks. If you’re using a hashtag with multiple words, consider capitalizing the first letter of each word: #ItsAMultipleWordHashtag.
    2. Avoid hashtag overload. Try to stick to five or six -- otherwise, your post will look unprofessional, and you will attract the wrong audiences by targeting too many people. Concentrate on who will really want to read and engage with your posts.

  5. Make a plan: there are plenty of studies that have tried to prove the optimal number of posts you should be sharing on each platform, per day. The general consensus is that users can share multiple posts per day on Twitter and Pinterest without overwhelming their followers, while sites like Facebook and Instagram are better suited for one post per day, several days a week. As you build your following, these rules may change. You can keep track of how much activity your posts are receiving on certain sites. Facebook Analytics, Twitter Analytics, and Instagram Insights keep track of your impressions, likes, and other factors. It’s easy to stick to your plan. We suggest you …

  6. Use scheduling services: keeping up with multiple social media platforms doesn’t have to be complicated! Online services such as MeetEdgar, Hootsuite, and Buffer allow you to schedule posts that will be shared later on. You can also schedule Facebook posts on the app itself and schedule tweets on TweetDeck.

  7. Be consistent: it’s best to use the same profile picture, branding, or logos across your social media accounts so people can find you more easily. You can also use the same hashtags – this is especially helpful if you create a hashtag specific to your work or book topic. You can share similar content on your different profiles, but try to adjust to whichever platform you’re using. For example, a photo you share on Facebook with a long written description can be reposted on your Twitter with a much shorter description, or a full-length video you post on Facebook or YouTube can be shortened for Instagram.

  8. Follow similar people and organizations: there is a maximum number set on most social media sites for how many accounts you can follow in a day, but because it’s usually somewhere in the hundreds, you probably won’t encounter any problems with this. Search relevant hashtags to find other authors and dedicated readers who are posting about the topics you are interested in, and give them a follow if you find their content engaging or helpful. Following writers’ organizations, publishers, and industry news accounts will keep you up to date on the happenings of the writing world, give you ideas for reposting or sharing, and broaden your reach. Once you’ve built up your following list …

  9. Engage: reply, like, and repost! This is how you build a relationship with your current and potential followers. Celebrate other authors’ accomplishments. Thank readers who reach out to you. Tag people and groups you think may want to know about what you’re sharing (you can tag accounts by using the @ symbol followed by the username of the account you want to tag). At the end of the day, as you’re sharing and interacting with all this content, remember to …

  10. Be yourself: your social media is a way for other authors and potential and current readers to get to know you better. You shouldn’t just use this powerful tool to say, “Buy my book!” every day. Be authentic. Here are some other ideas to get you started:
    1. Tell a funny anecdote from your day  
    2. Share quotes, articles, or books you enjoyed or want to comment on
    3. Post short excerpts or quotes from your book
    4. Talk about your writing inspirations
    5. Send out links to your blog or website

 There’s always more to learn about social media, no matter how much or little experience you have with it. If you need more help getting started, utilize the resources available to you:

  1. Your tech-savvy children or grandchildren
  2. The customer support sections for each platform
  3. The Author Learning Center’s vast library of interview clips, articles, and recorded webinars:
    1. Facebook for the Writer - Beginner Level
    2. Twitter Basics and Best Practices: Beginner Level
    3. How Authors Can Use Instagram to Promote and Sell Books
    4. Getting Started on Social Media Webinar Series
      1. Part 1
      2. Part 2
      3. Part 3
      4. Part 4
      5. Part 5
    5. Our social media section includes general information on social media as well as specific coverage of Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube, and others.
Share this story
Facebook Twitter Pinterest LinkedIn